When my friend told me she “just got Tinder” a few weeks ago I asked her if it was in color. Yes? She answered. Touchscreen? I wondered. Yes. This confusion continued until I asked her why she needed both the Tinder and the Kindle Fire.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about which is highly likely, Tinder is a dating app created by IAC, the same parent company that brought the world OkCupid and Match.com. It functions a lot like that website Hot or Not. Oh you’ve never seen Hot or Not? You've never spent hours giving total strangers a virtual thumbs up or thumbs down based off one picture? Yeah, you’re lying.
The concept of Tinder is simple. You cycle through pictures of theoretically single strangers in your area. Each person has between one and four pictures of themselves and sometimes a little quote, which are selected by Tinder by accessing your Facebook (they don’t post anything to Facebook.) You see the person's age, distance from you, and if you have any common Facebook friends or interests. The mutual friend aspect is funny and also confirms that it is indeed a small world after all. Thank God the age part is there but it also makes you realize that you’re old as dirt. The mutual friend part is interesting and weirds you out when one of your matches has your older brother in common with you.
You click a button on your phone with a little green heart if you think that person is hot, or a red X if you don’t and then they get stamped with a “nope!”. If you’ve mutually liked each other, you are given the option to message the person. This is much like texting, except it’s with a stranger who you probably think is hot, or a stranger who Tinder thinks you think is hot because you pressed the wrong button in your Tinder fury. This is where it gets both weird and interesting.
There’s something about these low stakes form of communication with someone you know almost nothing about (and therefore owe nothing to) that make people very bizarre, very honest, and very upfront. I had been hearing weird stories about Tinder from friends for weeks, and last night I created an account with the intention of deleting it today. For reasons I can’t exactly figure out — this ish is more addicting than Pringles. Messages range from the banal to the obscene to the just kind of weird. It’s a borderline joke but not everyone is joking. Actual things that have been said as opening lines:
1. Hi. I think I know you.
These are not things you would say to a person in a bar when they would be close enough to punch you in the face. With Tinder, there’s both an anonymity and an intimacy paired with an understanding that it’s mostly a joke. You can also block people. This combination of factors seems to make people very open.
One friend had a conversation about how newborn babies kind of look like balloon animals after they get their belly buttons tied. Another friend said to a girl, “Kendall, I’m going to put a rock on that thang!” and was later told by a different girl that she would “really like to be married by summer.” There seems to be no pressure to ever actually meet the person on the other side of the message, although I actually do know people who have met up with their Tinder “friends” and had relatively normal evenings.
Maybe it’s the ego boost, maybe it’s another way to waste time, maybe it affirms that there actually are attractive people out there ... unlike last Saturday night which you spent in a bar that smelled like puppy vomit and there wasn’t even one person there you’d want to kiss drunk. I honestly don’t know what it is, but it’s something. What I can say for sure is that I’m deleting my Tinder account for the same reason I won’t take painkillers: While they both really scare me I’m afraid of how much I might end up liking them.